Chris Casey, who spent the last three years at LIU Post, will replace Joe Mihalich at Niagara after Purple Eagles officially introduced him as new head coach today. (Photo courtesy of Niagara University)
After their former head coach departed for Long Island, Niagara University brought his successor in from the same suburb of New York City, officially introducing Chris Casey as the 21st head coach in the history of the Purple Eagles program just moments ago inside the Gallagher Center on Niagara's campus.
"To have the honor to coach here is very exciting," said Casey, who coached Division II LIU Post for the past three seasons. "I am looking forward to getting started."
Casey replaces Joe Mihalich, who left Monteagle Ridge as the winningest coach in MAAC history, going 265-203 in a 15-year career before replacing Mo Cassara at Hofstra, where he was hired two weeks ago. The 48-year-old Casey already has MAAC ties, having been an assistant at Saint Peter's from 1990-98 before going 27-46 in three years as the head coach at Rutgers-Newark. He became the coach at LIU Post in 2010 after Tim Cluess left the Pioneers to replace Kevin Willard at Iona, and took them to two NCAA Tournaments in three seasons, amassing a 62-25 record in the process. Prior to that, he was an assistant under Norm Roberts at St. John's for six years, serving as the Red Storm's director of basketball operations from 2004 to 2006 before replacing Chuck Martin on the bench in Queens for the next four seasons. Casey's hire makes him the third Roberts assistant to become a head coach, joining the aforementioned Martin; who was recently dismissed at Marist, as well as Glenn Braica of St. Francis College, who will enter his fourth season at the helm of the Terriers.
Casey is also the fourth new coach in the MAAC next season, joining Jeff Bower of Marist, as well as Northeast Conference transplants Tom Moore and King Rice from Quinnipiac and Monmouth, respectively. He inherits a Niagara team that went 19-14 this past season, a year in which the Purple Eagles overachieved by going 13-5 in MAAC play, good enough for a regular season championship that helped earn Coach of the Year honors for Joe Mihalich. Led by sophomore guards Juan'ya Green and Antoine Mason, whose older brother Anthony Jr. played for St. John's while Casey was an assistant there, Niagara went to their fifth postseason in the last fifteen years, falling to Maryland in the opening round of the NIT. Barring any transfers, Niagara only loses two players from their roster next season, and will likely be considered one of the favorites; along with Iona and Manhattan, to win the MAAC.